Author Topic: NASA is trying to make the Space Launch System rocket more affordable (Ars)  (Read 14838 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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New Glenn has a max thrust  3,850,000lbs  which is very close to that of the five segment RSRM which is around 3,600,000lbs.
They would stage higher and faster but probably not as much as the Dynetics Pyrios booster would have since they would normally be saving some of the propellant for landing.

You probably could deal with it by just throttling back the RS-25s for part of the flight .

At shutdown it'll be producing a lot of thrust still (while solids "throttle" almost to zero), unless they shut down all but the center engine or something. This was a problem for all previously-studied liquid boosters, the loads from the boosters pushing on the core stage just before BECO are too high. Even with RSRMV they've already had to alter the core stage throttle profile to mitigate this, but with any liquid option they'll probably have to add a 5th RS-25 to minimize the relative acceleration (and, unless thats coupled with some sort of engine reuse, this only exacerbates the most critical cost and schedule problem of the program)

The F-1B only had two throttle settings, and the lowest was 72% of max. And with two off-center engines on Pyrios they could not shut some of them down to "throttle".

BE-4 will throttle much lower, somewhere around 30%, and is much more controllable since it's a requirement for landing. If they need to, they can shut down 2, 4 or 6 engines leading up to separation. The extra 80+ seconds of burn time will allow the RS-25s to burn an extra 140 tonnes of fuel, increasing the core stage TWR at booster sep and further reducing the difference in acceleration of the boosters and core.

With the relatively slow liftoff (~1.23 TWR at liftoff) and the large mass of the core stage (at staging it will mass 50% more than two NG upper stages), the boosters should be going fairly slow at staging compared to New Glenn, although much faster than RSRMs will be. I figure about 2.3 km/s at booster sep for NG booster SLS, vs 2.5 km/s for NG, vs 1.4 km/s for RSRM boosted SLS.

The extra velocity at staging with NG boosters is sufficient to put the entire EUS and Orion in orbit with only a small circularization burn from the EUS (even with downrange recovery of the boosters).
Now if we can recover the core main engines in a "pod" as has been studied over the years we will begin to see potentially real cost savings in the out years with a flyback/boostback architecture...

This "pod" would be coming back from orbit. Might be a lot cheaper to shorten the core and land it downrange, and use the difference in height to build a large 2nd stage.
Yes that would mean a heat-shield with prop doors and chutes. Two stage is also interesting a cost/benefit analysis of each proposal would be revealing. I just recalled the old Saturn S-1D proposal of partial main engine re-usability as well...
http://lostinthisspace.blogspot.ca/2013/01/s-1d-first-stage.html
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Offline Proponent

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.

Offline Rocket Science

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
I said pretty much the same on the previous page unless NASA is just throwing out a "red herring"...
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Offline mike robel

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1.  Rockets, for the most part, are not LEGOs, {edit:not even the much heralded Falcon 9 which is not as interchangeable from core to core as they thought it would be.  (Which, by the way, I am eager to see launch.)}

2.  It may SpaceX, Blue Origin, and any other companies might not want to bid on the item because of the great uncertainty in funding and contract processes.

3.  Changing engines will require design changes that will cascade from the engine to the rocket to the launch pad plumbing to the VAB doors (maybe) and to the MLP swing arms.  This will drive up the cost and increase the time to do anything.

4.  Restricting this to the SLS, it will probably be cheaper and more effective to just stick to the current plan, such as it is.

$0.02...
« Last Edit: 12/20/2017 03:46 PM by mike robel »

Offline bad_astra

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SLS does not need to be made cheaper, but there does need to be the appearance of constantly making it look as if attempts are made to keep it cheaper. That allows SLS to remain in a perpetual development cycle while at the same time showing off the hardware in flight every couple of years until the political momentum for SLS dissipates and the program can be laid to rest.
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Online envy887

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
Depends how much of it is custom. If Blue is already operating NG as a reusable human-rated vehicle, and already has recovery ships and all the hardware figured out, and the only vehicle change is a custom interstage/nose cone/thrust beam attachment, then it might not be very expensive. Especially considering the huge payload capability upgrade.

Offline TomH

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
Depends how much of it is custom. If Blue is already operating NG as a reusable human-rated vehicle, and already has recovery ships and all the hardware figured out, and the only vehicle change is a custom interstage/nose cone/thrust beam attachment, then it might not be very expensive. Especially considering the huge payload capability upgrade.

But why would Bezos want to help NASA compete against his own rockets that will be both cheaper and have greater lift than SLS?

Offline woods170

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At the low flight rates envisioned for SLS, I suspect that reusability would cost more than it saved.
Depends how much of it is custom. If Blue is already operating NG as a reusable human-rated vehicle, and already has recovery ships and all the hardware figured out, and the only vehicle change is a custom interstage/nose cone/thrust beam attachment, then it might not be very expensive. Especially considering the huge payload capability upgrade.

But why would Bezos want to help NASA compete against his own rockets that will be both cheaper and have greater lift than SLS?
The answer is simple: he wouldn't want to help NASA.
Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

Online theinternetftw

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?

Offline woods170

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 12:04 PM by woods170 »

Online envy887

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

If BE-4 is going to launch NASA crews on Vulcan there will be some intrusive NASA involvement.

Offline Archibald

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Oh folks... it dawned on me... I know, apples and oranges, but even then...

Quote
courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

... that ackward and uneasy moment when you realize that Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget...

No kidding. From memory, NASA gets, what, 18 billion dollars, annually; while freakkin' Bezos get's 40 billion - damn, checked, 115 BILLION, REALLY ??!! - from Amazon or even more.

(impersonating Grandpa Simpson voice) NASA is doomed !  :o
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 04:38 PM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Online AncientU

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.
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Offline woods170

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

If BE-4 is going to launch NASA crews on Vulcan there will be some intrusive NASA involvement.

Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 05:48 PM by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.

No, NASA is only in a position to force change when the involved contractor needs the NASA dollars. That's why SpaceX agreed to change the M1D turbopump: they need the NASA money.

Blue Origin on the other hand does not need the NASA dollars given that its owner (Bezos) has far deeper pockets than NASA.

Offline whitelancer64

Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.

No, NASA is only in a position to force change when the involved contractor needs the NASA dollars. That's why SpaceX agreed to change the M1D turbopump: they need the NASA money.

Blue Origin on the other hand does not need the NASA dollars given that its owner (Bezos) has far deeper pockets than NASA.

So then BO won't get the contract, that sounds like a loss to me.

No reason why NASA could not request changes to the BE-4 engine, and no reason BO wouldn't accomodate those changes.

SpaceX doesn't "need" NASA money. Most of their future manifest is commercial launches. 3/5 of their launches have been for commercial customers.
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

If BE-4 is going to launch NASA crews on Vulcan there will be some intrusive NASA involvement.
The rationale for ULA using BE4 on Vulcan is to qualify it in excess of RD-180 (superset) in all ways.

That way if NASA has bought off on RD-180/Atlas (it has), they implicitly do so for BE4, thus they have had their say already. Arms length away. (ULA is in fact the only one who could do such for them.)

(The downside of this is that it takes a lot longer for ULA to "select" BE4 because of extreme rigor required in testing, thus a difficult to qualify engine (by it being a closed cycle) lengthens the schedule on Vulcan more than what they need for first flight.)

However, it also means that the alternative of AR-1 also gets compared against BE4 and this higher standard, thus AJR is doublely disadvantaged, since it is already well behind (no where close to full scale on a test stand) and would be compared against an engine already targeting higher test standards than planned for with AR-1.

BO by doing this gets an externally vetted, proven, flown engine with which to start with on a multi-engined, fully reusable stage.

Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.
Spot on.

You beat me to it.

Bezos avoids overly intrusive NASA involvement like the plague.

How does this mesh with the BE-3 on EUS study?
BE-3 is an existing engine. NASA can only use it as-is. If NASA wants lotsa changes made to it (for use on EUS) than Bezos will say "No thank you" and move on. That's avoiding overly intrusive NASA involvement right there.

Remember, Blue Origin in no way needs additional business for BE-3 to stay in business, courtesy of the very deep pockets of Bezos.

M1-D is an existing engine with thousands (>10,000) of firings and about 500 on orbital launches -- 1 failure, early in these flights.
NASA is forcing change.

No, NASA is only in a position to force change when the involved contractor needs the NASA dollars. That's why SpaceX agreed to change the M1D turbopump: they need the NASA money.

Blue Origin on the other hand does not need the NASA dollars given that its owner (Bezos) has far deeper pockets than NASA.
Yes.

The reason that BO does sell engines (and SX doesn't) has little to do with revenue (it does build the business as a practice). Has something to do with increasing flight history. SX already is exhaustively flying Merlin - who could fly them more than SX itself (which tells you exactly who SX could ever potentially partner with for outside of SX use of vehicles, just two names on that list, and it would have to be for a big deal given displacement of missions).

These deals reach a level where they accumulate a stack of data/experience, and its "take it or leave it". Which is hard for both ULA and OATK with BE-3 as we have seen.

Back to this original thread. In re: "NASA is forcing change" vs. "NASA forces changes". None of the world's space agencies (or arsenal systems contractors) force changes - only the market forces changes, and that happens too late for them to recover.

They can "force changes" on their providers/vendors/contractors. In many cases it may not have the effect to "force changes" on the industry, as they don't have that need, witness the only two CC instead of three choices, and FAR.

add:
Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.
Dunno.

Think there's a good chance of Falcon 9 given some things I've heard from Boeing.

We won't know about Vulcan for awhile, given AR-1 "down select" didn't happen at the end of 2017, and no one is willing to say when BE4 will be accepted. Suggests that they may "go ahead" at some point w/o the expected unconditional testing assurance once arrogantly claimed by Bruno (walked back like NSS mission by 2020 "eating hat with mustard bet" tweet?)

Yes large scale methalox ORSC isn't a walk in the park, as it's the very definition of "playing with fire" (cue the music).

add:

And ... have been asked how to advance SLS irrespective of political and ASAP limits with current developments but w/o FH as a LV.

Current "off the wall" way would to use an advantage of the existing SLS core with its overdesigned for RSRB reinforcement (that significantly limits performance. Enough is present for three F9R boosters on a side, allowing uprating IMLEO to about 140t (180t if no recovery), and likely more with a longer term core redesign following flight.

(The "cheap solids" aren't cheap anymore given mature F9 in use. They also limit performance for SLS, also cost and yearly flight rate/budget, so they have turned into a "must have" political albatross. If you add up all the lifetime costs of the total programs end to end, none of the big solids for SLS/CXP payout. Unless you're a political shill.)
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 08:22 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Online envy887

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

Offline woods170

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

The only reason why NASA was capable to force SpaceX to change the turbopump is because SpaceX needs the money. NASA has leverage over SpaceX. But NASA has no leverage over Blue Origin.

What do you think would have happened when SpaceX would have flat-out refused to re-do the M1D turbopump?
The answer is: NASA would not have certified F9/Crew Dragon for CCP missions. That would have resulted in at least $1.5 billion of NASA money not flowing into the pockets of SpaceX. And that is money SpaceX needs for its ultimate goal of having Elon Musk retire on Mars.

And if you think that NASA not certifying F9/Crew Dragon is unrealistic, than you don't know NASA. It is not for nothing that there are TWO (2) CCP contractors.

Also: NASA has leverage over ULA/Boeing as well. ULA/Boeing had to provide ALL the documentation with regards to RD-180 for review. Had ULA failed to hand it over, it would have resulted in Atlas V not becoming certified for launching Starliner. That is why the successful delivery of the required RD-180 documentation from Russia to ULA/Boeing was such an important milestone. Once NASA certifies Atlas V (and RD-180) for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone, it clears the path for Vulcan (and BE-4) becoming certified for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone as well.

So, other than having to hand over some documentation on BE-4, Blue Origin will be in the clear from any intrusive NASA involvement.

But I digress.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2018 11:59 AM by woods170 »

Offline MaxTeranous

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Not really. By that time Vulcan will have been flying for some time. NASA will have to accept the BE-4 as-is. Just like they have to accept the RD-180 (on Atlas V) as-is. All Blue has to do is to hand over all documentation regarding BE-4 for review. But NASA can basically not demand any alterations to the engine.

Also, it is unlikely that Starliner missions for NASA will ever fly on anything other than Atlas V.

NASA accepts RD-180 as-is because they have no other choice. Crew-rating Delta isn't viable and they have no leverage over NPO Energomash.

Merlin 1D was already flying for some time with a good record before NASA required SpaceX to make changes.

The only reason why NASA was capable to force SpaceX to change the turbopump is because SpaceX needs the money. NASA has leverage over SpaceX. But NASA has no leverage over Blue Origin.

What do you think would have happened when SpaceX would have flat-out refused to re-do the M1D turbopump?
The answer is: NASA would not have certified F9/Crew Dragon for CCP missions. That would have resulted in at least $1.5 billion of NASA money not flowing into the pockets of SpaceX. And that is money SpaceX needs for its ultimate goal of having Elon Musk retire on Mars.

And if you think that NASA not certifying F9/Crew Dragon is unrealistic, than you don't know NASA. It is not for nothing that there are TWO (2) CCP contractors.

Also: NASA has leverage over ULA/Boeing as well. ULA/Boeing had to provide ALL the documentation with regards to RD-180 for review. Had ULA failed to hand it over, it would have resulted in Atlas V not becoming certified for launching Starliner. That is why the successful delivery of the required RD-180 documentation from Russia to ULA/Boeing was such an important milestone. Once NASA certifies Atlas V (and RD-180) for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone, it clears the path for Vulcan (and BE-4) becoming certified for crewed CCP launches, based on documentation alone as well.

So, other than having to hand over some documentation on BE-4, Blue Origin will be in the clear from any intrusive NASA involvement.

But I digress.

I agree with all your points - but following it through to it's logical conclusion, lets assume for a moment that in 2/3 years some potential issue is identified with the BE-4. Something similar to the Merlin M1D blades cracking issue. NASA knowing the issue would also require changes to the BE-4 - just like they did with Merlin. If that situation occurs then although Blue Origin is in a position to tell them to go take a hike, that would leave ULA right up the creek without a paddle. Would NASA uncertify (or refuse to certify) Vulcan due to the BE-4 problem? Same situation - they have 2 contractors for a reason, but I reckon it'd take more balls on NASA's behalf to remove flights from ULA than a new space company, simply due to politics.

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